Tavis Smiley used to be the darling of black America. Once upon a time his keen critical commentary, ubiquitous media presence and undeniable charm brought delight to the hearts and minds of many black Americans. No matter whether he was providing social commentary on Tom Joyner’s morning radio show or conducting interviews on his television talk show, Smiley’s voice and views seemed to always find a large ready audience in the black community. At the height of his popularity, Smiley hosted a highly celebrated, nationally televised “State of the Black Union” symposium that comedian Chris Rock once hilariously called “the annual black people listen meeting,” which featured some of the best and brightest of the African-American community.
But things changed in 2007, when then-Sen. Barack Obama announced his candidacy for president of the United States of America. Since this time Tavis Smiley and many black Americans have been engaged in what can only be described as a lovers’ quarrel. As the story goes, many in the black community either turned on or tuned out Smiley when he persisted to publicly challenge, criticize, and correct President Obama for not putting forth a “black agenda.”
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